THE MARCH ON MONUMENT BROUGHT OUT MORE THAN 2K [AND I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS]

Yesterday’s March on Monument was a symbolic display of solidarity and unity. With Robert E. Lee serving as the backdrop, the speakers and signs framed a message of coming together for a variety of issues that will certainly be threatened in the coming Trump administration: Equal Rights for Women, Reproduction Rights, ¬†support for those in the LGTBQ community, were some of the larger themes. There were a lot of signs against the Trump Administration but just as many (or more) in support of unifying causes. Overall, I think the march was strong gesture against the intolerance we’ve seen since the start of the presidential campaign season.

With that, walking through the crowd at the tail end of the rally, I still have a few questions:

  1. With so much to fight in the looming Trump Administration, where does one start?  There were a lot of different messages coming from the podium and the signs. And that was before Congressman McEachin brought up Russian hacking.
  2. How do we bring larger number of your people and minorities to these types of efforts? Unless, I missed it – which I don’t think I did – of the social groups that publicly supported the rally: ACLU of Virginia, Equality Virginia, Health Brigade, the Richmond Peace Education Center and the YWCA of Richmond, just to name a few, there was just a lack of the young and minority spirit that I saw at some of the Black Lives Matter rallies in Monroe Park. I’d love to see some truly unified efforts in 2017.
  3. Specifically, how do we bring Richmond’s hip-hop community into theses efforts? That’s a loaded question but one I don’t know the answer. There are a plethora of power voices in Richmond’s hip-hop community – strong voices – protest voices – they must be heard.

I’d love to hear your answers to these questions and even more observations in the comments. #WESEEIT

5 Comments

  • Larkin Garbee says:

    What I learned at the end of the march was that the lead organizers were a group of moms. As a participant, it was a peaceful movement but I was very surprised by the lack of racial diversity in the crowd. If anyone can bring a city together, having a group of moms establish the foundation is a great way to start. At this point, action steps would be to reach out and see if they are organizing another march and try to bring more leaders to the table to help with the next one. There were certainly more women than men which we could also work on for a future event!

  • Good point Larkin. I wasn’t as struck by the men/women ratio but now that it’s been coming up, it’s very true. I thought the organizers did a great job for what they were trying to do. I wonder how we can further merge efforts for social justice.

  • Adria Scharf says:

    Multiracial organizing is hard because our city is so divided. The issue is bigger than any of us. But insofar as marches like this are intended to unite, make statements about inclusion and prefigure the community we all want to see…we gotta do better. I hope that at the next march like this, white activists partner with communities of color from the get go, having diversity at the planning table and in the framing stage of organizing…In the future we need to do more to ensure our collective actions actually bridge the divides that we say we seek to overcome. I share this in a spirit of love. I appreciate that the organizers of this march took initiative to respond to this (Trump) moment. I also appreciated that the organizers reached out to various groups doing social justice work, including the Peace Center, invited us to have tables, lifting up the work of a lot of ongoing efforts. And the event brought out a large intergenerational group of people, including people who aren’t the “usual suspects” at marches in this town. This is just the beginning of what will be a LONG four years. Let’s continue to grow.

  • Sorry I couldn’t make it – glad you did. You’re dead on about diversity problems. Partly the problem of different networks in a segregated town – activists have to work hard to overcome it, and make sure everyone’s at the table as early as possible (as Adria’s great comment above states). It seems to me a lot of organizing among the city’s white liberals is happening on Facebook – not sure how well their efforts are connected to other communities.

  • Pam Karthik says:

    Coming from a white women’s perspective, I was very much impressed on the practical details side of the march…permit, layout, program, media, etc. On the other side of it (the meat & bones of trust building within the communities) the organizers, pointed out to them early on, had a lack of connections & organizers from marginalized communities.
    Things like the ‘About’ wording for the facebook event & event pictures did not seem to be thought through with inclusive intentions. Both wording & the facebook event pics were changed numerous times after the lack of diversity was pointed out. The 1st pic was a safety pin, 2nd pic was white only hands raised in the air & the words ‘all races welcome’. The about section mentioned police & political leaders were working with them to create a diverse event. Also mentioned, was that organizers were contacting diverse groups & anyone that had connections was welcome to contact them to join the march. This is ‘white feminism’ in it’s approach. When such items as above were pointed out, common whitesplaining answers of “we are trying & very busy” were given over & over not only by organizers but by other whites through facebook along with the replies of “let’s all work together to help them”.

    While I understand the type of ‘let’s work together’ thought process, we can no longer except it as a normal for expecting true trust building between allies & marginalized communities. The notion of, if good whites build it others will join in, can no longer be ok enough.
    We have to step up our game & not just be another group of whites telling others to join along with us. If that kind of thinking & allyship worked we would be much further along in our process as a diverse & equal community, where all are heard & have equal say at the table.

    Although this may seem like harsh statements to make, I have yet to see anyone else call it out for what it was. White women putting together a well meaning event that literally did not have any connections with 2/3 of the organizations, as well as, speakers prior to 2.5 weeks before the march. (This was noted when the main organizer phone called to explain to me why the lack of diverse organizations were involved at that point when I asked online.) To some, the quick turn out may be impressive, to others that shows the organizers having no shared connection to diversity prior to this event. A point of complaint.

    On one hand the event was beautiful in observing the quick action of so many whites wanting for something more, a change & a voice. On the other hand, to not even take notice from the beginning (it had to be pointed out as well) that 1) police & politicians are not felt as positive allies in most marginalized communities the same as they are in white communities, 2) that this march was taking place on MLK weekend & no action was being taken to check if Black communities had major events happening the same day showed a lack of inclusive thought process, 3) that mainly white, cisgender, above low-income voices & actions seem to be at the forefront.

    Admittedly, in all these years of organizing ‘diverse’ events, this is a healthy challenge & outlook I did not grasp myself prior to one year ago & still have to actively work on. Not to mention, be willing to be called in/out on a regular basis. We have reached a new threshold, in holding myself & other white allies accountable to go beyond the everyday normal that got us here, to this same spot.

    As true supportive allies, WE have to put marginalized people first. In leadership, in organizing, in receiving acknowledgement, in attendance, in media relations, in all the ways we have not thought of before…rethink the paradigm we have allowed ourselves to be apart of, all these long, truly messed up years.

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